Uniquely Hungary: Fish Among Other Things, By Anne Zwack

  • 17 Sep 2015 4:38 AM
Uniquely Hungary: Fish Among Other Things, By Anne Zwack
I think the one thing most expats miss in Hungary is the sea, and perhaps not only the expats. Driving into the country the other day I saw on the one billboard blank of ads and propaganda someone had written: Now that we have a Mediterranean climate couldn’t we have a sea as well?

Most restaurants serve Mediterranean fish nowadays but it has always been a little more complicated to buy it yourself. My son goes to the Fish Market in Budaors to buy fish for his star turn pasta dish and regularly comes back with an octopus the size of Polyp Paul, the animal that successfully prophesized the winning teams during the World Cup.

But now nearer at hand we have discovered Peter, the fishmonger in the Hold utca market hall.

At Voros Homar his spread - which as the name suggests includes lobster, oysters and little green crabs and delicious small mussels from France - could almost rival Harrods Food Hall. The fish is flown in several times a week and from Italy on Fridays. Peter speaks very good English as he spent several years in New Zealand and Scotland.

The Hold utca was always the loveliest market hall in Budapest and today is experiencing a revival with leading gastronomes like Pomodoro opening up a stall soon. Recently restored, the hall is now resplendent in primrose yellow with green wrought iron girders. People come here not only to shop but above all to eat and at lunchtime the buzz from the overhead gallery sounds like nesting starlings.

There are a whole range of eateries from Hungarian to Italian to Chinese and kosher while Peter the fishmonger has an elegant little fish place with, among many other dishes, a sophisticated take on fish and chips using salmon instead of cod with delicious French fries.

The tree-lined Hold utca as a whole is becoming a little Saint Germain des Pres in its own right with the splendid art nouveau Postatakarekpenztar built by Odon Lechner down one side and a sequence of small restaurants on the other. The diminutive Kis Piac has all the charm of a bistro in Paris with some of the best roast duck in town, while further down the street at number 3 is the Artizan bakery.

The baker kneads the dough for the bread and pastries, which has been leavening for twenty four hours, right in the middle in full view of the customers.

Also a coffee shop, this place has the airy pristine aura of an up-market venue in Hamburg. Hold means moon and I have to say that Moon Street has to be my favourite street in Budapest.

By Anne Marshall Zwack for XpatLoop.com

Anne was born in England in 1946, grew up in Cambridge and was educated in England and in Belgium. She lived and worked for several years in Paris, Rome and Milan where she met Peter Zwack who swept her off her feet and eventually brought her back to Hungary.

During this time she wrote for many important American publications including the Travel Section of the New York Times, Travel + Leisure and Gourmet Magazine. She currently divides her time between Budapest and Tuscany. Peter and Anne Zwack have two children and were married for forty years.

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